Late antiques dealer Forrest Fenn, who hid a $2 million treasure chest in the mountains, heads to auction

In 2010, New Mexico art and antiques dealer Forrest Fenn infamously hid a Romanesque bronze chest filled with approximately $2 million in gold coins and other valuables somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. , then challenged the world to find it.

The hunt ended in June 2020, just months before Fenn died at 90, when an explorer finally found the treasure. But now the rest of the world has a chance to own a piece from Fenn’s legendary art collection, when it’s auctioned off by his family in Hindman in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 9.

The sale, titled “Native American Art: Forrest Fenn’s Lifetime Collectionwill feature 168 lots, including an assortment of beads, taken from her museum-like home.

“Beads from various Plains tribes filled two entire walls and one table displayed a collection of rare Plains dolls. The collection spilled over onto the floor, under tables and over doors,” Hindman vice president Wes Cowan said in a statement. statement.

Sioux twist pipe stem with catlinite bowl once owned by Sitting Bull, estimated between $60,000 and $80,000. Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

The best lots of the sale should include a Sioux twist pipe stem with a catlinite bowl once belonging to Sitting Bull, estimated between $60,000 and $80,000, and a Sioux grizzly bear claw necklacewhich could fetch between $40,000 and $60,000).

A pair of Cochiti storage jars from Fenn’s extensive Pueblo pottery collection are expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000, while Native American dolls featured in his book Historic American Indian Dolls include examples fetching up to $25,000. dollars.

19th century Sioux grizzly bear claw necklace, estimated between $40,000 and $60,000.  Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

19th century Sioux grizzly bear claw necklace, estimated between $40,000 and $60,000. Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

Other highlights include photos of Native Americans taken by the William J. Lenny and William L. Sawyers photo studio in Purcell, Oklahoma, including a selection of 19 portraits of Quanah Parker, a prominent Kwahadi Comanche leader, estimated at between 10 $000 and $15,000 to Position it.

“Forrest began collecting at a young age, traveling the plains of Texas and the mountains of Montana in search of arrowheads. He was hooked,” Fenn’s family wrote in the introduction to the auction catalog. “He loved the allure of ancient places and the tradition of ancient people. This magnificent collection illustrates a lifetime of dedication and passion for Native American arts and all that surrounds the West.

Quanah Parker (1845-1911) photographs taken by the studio of William J. Lenny and William L. Sawyers, from the collection of Forrest Fenn, estimated between $10,000 and $15,000.  Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

Quanah Parker (1845-1911) photographs taken by the studio of William J. Lenny and William L. Sawyers, from the collection of Forrest Fenn, estimated between $10,000 and $15,000. Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

An Air Force veteran, Fenn got his start in the art world in the 1970s as a partner in the Arrowsmith-Fenn Gallery in Santa Fe, which eventually became the Fenn Gallery. The gallery specializing in Native American art and the Taos School of Southwestern artists.

“Fenn was a celebrated figure in the world of Native American and Western art collectors, and the auction offers bidders a unique opportunity to acquire works by a legendary collector,” added Danica Farnand, Vice President of Hindman for Native American Art.

Large Cochiti pottery storage jar from the collection of Forrest Fenn, estimated between $20,000 and $30,000.  Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

Large Cochiti pottery storage jar from the collection of Forrest Fenn, estimated between $20,000 and $30,000. Photo courtesy of Hindman, Chicago.

Fenn began his treasure hunt in 2010, with the publication of his self-published memoir, The thrill of the hunt. The book ended with a riddle in the form of a cryptic poem which, if solved, would lead the reader to the hidden gold.

The challenge has spawned an enthusiastic community of treasure hunters, many of whom have spent years searching for the hidden chest. The search proved deadly at times, with five treasure hunters dying while on the trail of Fenn’s elusive riches.

Forrest Fenn's treasure is said to be in an ornate Romanesque box filled with gold nuggets, gold coins, and other precious stones.  Courtesy of Forrest Fenn.

Forrest Fenn’s treasure is said to have been buried in an ornate Romanesque box filled with gold nuggets, gold coins and other precious stones. Courtesy of Forrest Fenn.

A 32-year-old medical student from Michigan, Jonathan “Jack” Stuef, finally cracked the code, discovering the treasure in a still unknown location in Wyoming. Stuef would consider auctioning off the contents of the vault.

To follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay one step ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive breaking news, revealing interviews and incisive reviews that move the conversation forward.

Comments are closed.